Once too hot for its own good, Balthazar (80 Spring St., between Crosby St. and Broadway, 212/965-1414, $25), a large and bustling brasserie, still draws a sleek, celebrity-studded crowd.
Café Noir (32 Grand St., 212/431-7910) features small plates and tapas served until late (4 a.m. Fri. and Sat.) at this casual neighborhood institution.
The Mercer Kitchen (99 Prince St., 212/966-5454, $28), a cool subterranean restaurant in the Mercer Hotel, is a feast for the eyes. The eclectic menu is matched with a diverse wine list.
The dark and stylish Raoul’s (180 Prince St., between Sullivan and Thompson Sts., 212/966-3518, $31), a French bistro, is a downtown mecca and with good reason: The food and ambience are top-notch.
Kittichai (60 Thompson St., 212/219-2000) serves high-end Thai food in a dramatically beautiful setting, frequented by beautiful people.
At the south end of SoHo is the cozy Cupping Room Cafe (359 W. Broadway, near Broome St., 212/925-2898), especially good for afternoon snacks. Another spot for a quick lunch is sandwich shop Olive’s (120 Prince St., 212/941-0111).
The classic bar in SoHo is Fanelli’s (94 Prince St., at Mercer St., 212/226-9412), an 1876 pub complete with beveled glass doors, tiled floors, and heavy dark wood. In the back are worn wooden tables where passable bar food is served.
At the Pegu Club (77 W. Houston St., 212/473-7348), colonial Asian decor houses this upscale cocktail bar where the mixologists produce beautiful drinks harking back to yesteryear.
The Merc Bar (151 Mercer St., near Houston St., 212/966-2727), done up in sleek, modernized Adirondackiana, attracts a lively crowd. Also on Mercer Street, the glass and steel Bar 89 (89 Mercer St., 212/274-0989) is a comfortable staple serving familiar bar food and pretty cocktails. Be sure to check out the unique bathrooms.
© Avalon Travel and Sascha Zuger from Moon New York State, 5th Edition